Who would have ever thought that a pair of humble mittens made out of recycled wool would make such phenomenal ripples across the world and thrust the maker and the wearer to dizzying limelight? That's not all. The mittens managed to raise a whopping US$ 1.8 million in a matter of days for a good cause: charity, and swamped the creator with a mountain of orders reportedly to the tune of 18,000 pairs, opening the window of entrepreneurial opportunities for her.
The story behind the power of mittens is quite simple.
Bernie Sanders wore his gift to the presidential inauguration and sat alone on a chair with his legs crossed, unintentionally showing off his 'gauntlet'. His photo went viral, sending him instantly on the path of meme frenzy on the internet.
Who would have ever thought that the nearly 80-yearold, a former presidential candidate, would become a meme that scorched the internet? Well, things can and do happen unexpectedly in the most bizarre fashion. That photograph of Bernie looking not-so-happy, perhaps due to the cold, and his radiant mittens instantly hit it off on the internet, bringing him more fame.
The woman who made and gifted the mittens to the senator turned into a celebrity herself.
Her fame has started opening doors of opportunities for her side business, which she carried on at home on a sewing machine that her mother reportedly gifted her when she was twelve. That's one hell of a lucky sewing machine!
Jen Ellis, the second-grade school teacher who sent Bernie on the internet journey through her gift, could be an inspiration for gender empowerment, equality and emancipation to the women of our country. How many women in the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal fancy knitting and working on an old sewing machine from home to supplement their income or as a spiritual therapy? The quest for empowerment and emancipation need not always come as a political battle cry. Jen found her power and freedom in a humble sewing machine. These days, one needs to have a manual skill besides certificates for extra income.
My gardener charges me 1,000 rupees an hour, painters 1000-1200 rupees a day and carpenters 1500 rupees a day.
These skilled craftsmen and women earn well in the country.
Despite such income, they, however, lack work integrity.
Jen gifted her mittens to the senator, who accepted the gift.
Both are blessed, Jen perhaps more than Bernie. It was propitious that Bernie decided to put on the gloves on the day he did.
How many politicians would accept the gift from recycled materials and how many would use them in Nepal?
A version of this article appears in the print on February 10, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.